Turning a home-cooked meal into a road trip to remember
You don’t have to go to a restaurant to get a great meal, sometimes the most delectable dishes can be made right at home. Great meals need great ingredients, and SURPRISE, Kansas is well known for our quality meats! Great meat and butcher shops can be impressive destinations in and of themselves, but don’t just take our word for it. Explore some of our favorite, premium meat shops from across the state!
Kansas' Best Meat Markets
Brant’s Market - Lucas
Brant’s Market was established in Lucas in 1922, and it has been a community staple ever since! They are one of the oldest meat markets in the country, and their handcrafted bologna and sausages are truly something you don’t want to miss. Brant’s was kept in the Brant family for four generations. After the business closed in 2018, Adam and Ashley Comeau saw an opportunity that they couldn’t pass up and purchased it from the Brants. Now a new generation is crafting the original recipes that are time tested by generations of locals.
Bologna and sausage are the staples of Brant’s Market (the same recipes that James Brant brought with him from Czechoslovakia) with a few newer additions like pepper sausage. You also need to try the Jaternice, another Czech recipe, which Brant’s describes as ‘an old Bohemian style of liverwurst.’ They also carry fresh meats (strips, ribeyes, bacon, pork chops and much more) and road trip-worthy beef jerky. Trust us, you don’t want to miss this market!
While you’re in the area we also suggest checking out:
- Grassroots Arts Center – Lucas is the Grassroots Arts Capital of Kansas, a designation that you’ll understand immediately when you arrive in town. You’ll be entranced by the art you find here!
- Garden of Eden – Undoubtedly Lucas’ most well-known art piece. We don’t want to give too much away, but this is definitely a Kansas must-see.
- World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things Museum - Say that ten times fast! Hailed by Atlas Obscura as ‘America’s Best Roadside Attraction’, this quirky museum pays tribute to the world’s most famous roadside attractions. You’ll be entranced by the care and love that went into creating these tiny monuments. Call ahead to make sure that Erika, the artist behind the museum, is in town!
- Bowl Plaza – Officially named the No. 2 best toilet in America (pun intended, but also TOTALLY TRUE) Bowl Plaza is a sight to behold. Yes, I know that I am recommending you check out a bathroom, but for real… Check it out. You won’t regret it.
Pacheco Beef – Alma
Pacheco Beef may be the newest retail space on our list, but it’s one that's road trip worthy. They opened their doors to their beautiful Alma-based retail location in March of 2021, but don’t think that makes them new to the meat business. Arturo and Wrenn are the ranchers behind the Beef Shop. Arturo, a fifth-generation rancher, has a Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition and assists ranchers all over the country feed their cattle more efficiently. Wrenn, a second-generation rancher, is the operation’s storyteller, administrator and cut selection extraordinaire.
Although they have generations of ranching in their blood, both Wrenn and Arturo are Flint Hills transplants who fell in love with the area as Arturo was getting his Ph.D. from K-State around 14 years ago. They have found the community they were built for, with kind people who are just as deeply rooted in the prairie as the Pachecos.
Make a road trip of it:
- Be sure to take the Native Stone Scenic Byway to town. This byway highlights the beautiful native limestone of the region. You’ll see that the limestone makes for beautiful, long-lasting architecture, with homes, businesses and fences being made from the adaptable material.
- Alma Creamery is the home of your new favorite cheese. Stop by the production facility to grab an assortment of delicious, natural, handmade cheeses. Don’t forget to grab one that is shaped like Kansas, because DUH. Who doesn’t want a Kansas-shaped cheese?
- The Volland Store in Alma is a perfect example of a rural community coming together to create something beautiful. Originally built to be the community’s general store, it fell into disrepair after decades of non-use. But a recent renovation of the structure has brought new life into the sturdy brick walls. Today it is a wonderful ‘center of community life’ that hosts meetings, events and an impressive art gallery (which is currently hosting ‘Crossroads: Change in Rural America’, a Smithsonian traveling exhibit, from March 13 until April 25, 2021). It also features a modern Loft available for short-term rental at AirBnB. The Volland Store Is truly a ‘rural retreat in the heart of the Flint Hills.’
Pallucca’s – Frontenac
Pallucca’s is a legend in southeast Kansas, a tradition that started as a grocery store in 1909 in Frontenac. I first heard about Pallucca’s from a friend who described it as ‘Literally, the best sausage I have ever had in my entire life. I dream about it. I visit every time I am within an hour’s drive away.’ The city’s Italian heritage is palpable as you walk through town, a culture that is present in every bite that you eat at Pallucca’s. The grocery store remodeled and turned its specific focus to its deli and catering services in 2009 and remained in the Pallucca family until 2013. It was then purchased by Ethan and Alyssa Edwards, complete with the storied Pallucca recipe book. Ethan started working at Pallucca’s before he could even drive, so he was a natural fit to take over.
While the recipes are still original, the Edwards family has also opened Pallucca’s Event Hall, an elegant event venue, next door. You’ll want to try the Italian garlic sausage when you go, but don’t forget to try some hearty pasta, as well!
Also, be sure to check out:
- The Fried Chicken Wars – Nearby Pittsburg is the home of the famous Chicken Wars, with two competing restaurants (Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s) right next door to one another. There is now a best-selling novel based on the myths behind these community staples. Now you tell us what you think… Chicken Mary’s or Chicken Annie’s?
- Big Brutus – This big boy can be seen in West Mineral. The world’s largest remaining electric shovel stands tall against the Kansas plains, and from experience, you know this thing is going to be huge going into it, but somehow it still surpasses expectations. Now, if you’re weirdly empathetic like me, the thought that Brutus dug his own grave is a little bit of a bummer, but this serene landscape and fascinating mining history will be enough to distract you from your own existential crisis.
- Miner’s Hall Museum – You can find this testament to the rich mining legacy in southeast Kansas in Franklin. History buffs can learn about the mining industry in this free museum. A surprising piece of history is also celebrated here, the so-called ‘Amazon Army’ that saw thousands of wives, daughters, mothers, sisters and sweethearts marching in protest of unfair labor practices. Their impact on labor laws are still in effect today!
Giles Ranch Beef, The Meating Place – Ashland
There’s nothing quite like home-raised beef, and Giles Ranch Beef, with their retail shop called ‘The Meating Place’ is a great western Kansas shop to visit. The Giles Ranch describes themselves as ‘3 sisters raising wild kids and black angus beef in the scenic hills of western Kansas.’
The shop has several sizes of beef boxes available for subscription, but I think you’ll love the bundles that they offer. You’ll also love their hamburger, and don’t forget to try their charcuterie selection, as well!
While you’re in the area, be sure to check out:
- Big Basin Prairie Preserve – You’ll be amazed by the sight of this natural sinkhole. It’s around a mile in diameter and approximately 100 feet deep. You’ll also be able to see the bison herd that calls the Big Basin its home. Don’t forget, bison aren’t giant teddy bears, these are wild, unpredictable animals. Give them some space and enjoy the beauty from afar.
- St. Jacob’s Well – Don’t forget to visit St. Jacob’s Well while you’re at Big Basin. This permanent pond has never been known to go dry, a rarity in western Kansas. This spot has been the subject of several local legends (from ghosts of drowned cowboys to blind fish) this fascinating spot is a must-see.
- Pioneer Krier Museum – You’ll find all sorts of local pioneer history and artifacts at this Ashland Museum. You’ll also find items from Harold Krier, a famous aerobatic airplane pilot who represented the U.S. in competitions across the world.
Scorched Stone Farm – Holyrood
Scorched Stone Farm is located smack-dab in the middle of Holyrood, Wilson and Claflin. Three generations of the Homolka family are part of this unique farm. You will want to try their Wagyu beef, a ‘melt in your mouth’ type of beef that is genetically predisposed for intense marbling. But Wagyu beef isn’t the only thing you can find at Scorched Stone! You can also pick up fresh-cut flowers, farm-fresh veggies and so much more.
You’ll want to make an appointment at Scorched Stone Farm, so make sure to call ahead!
Also, be sure to check out:
- Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area – Cheyenne Bottoms is a stopping point for millions of birds along the central flyway. It contains 41,000 acres, making it the largest system of wetlands in Kansas. This is a MUST SEE for anyone remotely interested in wildlife and conservation.
- Wilson State Park – Wilson State Park is undoubtedly among Kansas’ best state parks! From hiking to watersports to mountain biking (YES, there is mountain biking in Kansas) every outdoor enthusiast will love Wilson.
- Midland Railroad Hotel – Looking for a unique place to rest your head on your adventure? Look no further than the Midland Railroad Hotel in Wilson. This hotel was established in 1899 and adds a historically beautiful flair for modern guests. A candid for Insta on their gorgeous staircase is reason enough to stop, but you’ll want to stick around for the luxe accommodations.
Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats – McPherson
Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats got its start in 1978 as a small country store that offered ground beef, cheese, honey and raw milk. The business grew and soon they expanded to include a complete natural food line with fresh meat and a smokehouse. Their store in McPherson is one you don’t want to miss. With three generations working at Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats, this family operation has grown into a business with dozens of different offerings.
McPherson has a ton of fun things to do and places to explore:
- McPherson Museum – Have a little one that LOVES sloths? Well, what about a GIANT sloth?! Meet a prehistoric giant ground sloth from the La Brea Tar Pits, view art from Birger Sandzen and get to know the McPherson Globe Refiners, part of the basketball team that brought home the 1936 Olympic gold medal.
- McPherson Opera House – If you can time your visit when a performance is happening at the McPherson Opera House, you absolutely should go! An $8.5 million rehabilitation was completed in 2010 and man… It is gorgeous!
- McPherson Community Building – This Community Building has been an important gathering place in McPherson since 1928. The gymnasium was home to the McPherson Globe Refiners. You’ll want to take a look at the bronze relief erected of the team just outside of the building and see how you measure up!